May 8, 2010

Georgetown States Case, Sticks Fork in Villanova

by Justin Feil | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Game Blog

Starting goalie Jack Davis (right) encourages relief goalie CT Fisher during halftime of Georgetown's 15-9 victory at Villanova that helped the Hoyas' cause for an NCAA tournament at-large berth.

© Kevin P. Tucker

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Rickey Mirabito’s career-high eight points helped No. 14 Georgetown rally for a 15-9 win at No. 11 Villanova on Saturday night to finish second in the Big East Conference and strengthen its resume for the NCAA tournament selection committee.

The Hoyas entered the game with only one win over a ranked team – they beat No. 20 Notre Dame.

“It keeps us in the mix for tomorrow,” said Mirabito, a redshirt junior attackman. “We just know a loss would have taken us out of contention for the playoffs. We thought we had to win this game to put ourselves in the mix.”

Mirabito tied his career high with five goals and added a career-high three assists while freshman Travis Comeau scored four goals – two apiece that came six seconds after faceoffs. Mirabito had just 19 goals and two assists coming into the game.

“The ball kept coming my way,” Mirabito said, “and I just made some plays.”

The Hoyas trailed Villanova, 7-5, at halftime but used a 6-0 third quarter to take control and then withstood a short-lived Wildcats rally in the fourth quarter. The Hoyas are 9-5 overall, 5-1 in the Big East. Georgetown is No. 10 in the RPI rankings and will find out Sunday night if it did enough to make the postseason.

“I’m sure we’ll be in the discussion,” said Georgetown head coach Dave Urick. “I just hope we’re one of the 16.”

Villanova also looked at the game as a must-win in spite of having two wins over top-20 teams. The Wildcats finish 10-5 overall, 4-2 in the Big East.

“We knew if we didn’t win, we’re not going to get in,” said Villanova head coach Mike Corrado. “And if we won, we had a chance. I think we needed to win this game. We have some good wins, three top-20 wins, but I’d be surprised if that was good enough based on all the things that happened today.”

Villanova’s first home loss this year was their eighth straight to Georgetown, though they last met in 1999. With The Pavilion – site of plenty of Villanova-Georgetown men’s basketball rumbles – in the background, the schools went at it for the first time in Big East Conference lacrosse history.

This one might have been better if played indoors as a gusting wind produced lopsided results. Only one of the first 20 goals in the game was scored into the west goal at Villanova Stadium.

“That was a weird trend,” said Hoya goalie CT Fisher, who made six saves in relief of Jack Davis. “The wind was really crazy tonight. It was pushing the goal back when it was at the other end. I was having to pull it back up.”

Said Corrado: “I think it had a little bit of an effect, but it didn’t seem to affect Georgetown in the fourth quarter.”

After Villanova’s Jack Rice scored the first of his three-first half goals five minutes into the game, Georgetown scored the next five goals to close the first quarter with a 5-1 lead behind two goals from Comeau and Mirabito’s first assist. As thoroughly as the Hoyas dominated the first quarter, Villanova was maybe even better in the second quarter as both teams traded miscues in their defensive ends.

“In the second quarter, we just came out flat,” Mirabito said. “We didn’t play smart and we didn’t play hard. Out of the 15 minutes, we played 11 minutes of defense.”

Two goals from Rice, the second which tied it, 5-5, gave the Wildcats momentum as they took a 7-5 lead into the locker room after a goal by Kevin Cunningham with 30 seconds left in the second quarter.

Mirabito scored his second of the game six minutes into the second half. Comeau tied it, 7-7, six seconds later. Andrew Brancacaccio scored the game-winner three minutes later and the Hoyas continued to pull away.

They took an 11-7 lead into the fourth quarter only to see the Wildcats’ top scorer, Paul Webber, go with the wind for two goals to cut the lead to 11-9 with 10:35 still to play. It was the last goal the Hoyas would surrender.

“We regrouped and got our composure back and just went from there,” Fisher said. “We know we can go on runs on defense and not give up goals for five, 10 minutes or a quarter.”

Georgetown shut out Villanova in the third quarter and held them to one goal in the first quarter on its way to holding an opponent to fewer than 10 goals for the sixth time this season.

“We played much better defensively in the second half,” Urick said. “And we got some goals in transition which helped us a lot. That makes a big difference.”

Mirabito found Dowd to pad the Georgetown lead, then scored the final three goals himself to finish off a career day.

“I just handled the ball a lot more,” Mirabito said. “Usually, I play off ball, play off Craig Dowd. I knew they had a great defender guarding Craig, so I handled the ball a lot more.”

Cunningham finished with one goal and three assists for the Wildcats. Rice finished with three goals. Freshman goalie Billy Hurley had seven saves for Villanova.

Stu Shannon had two goals for the Hoyas. Dowd had two goals. Scott Kocis had a goal and assist for Georgetown, which awaits an NCAA tournament berth Sunday night.

“We knew for us to keep our chances alive this was a must-win,” said Mirabito.  

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